The Future of Performance Management

Backwards-looking performance management systems have had their day – wahoo! – and need to be replaced by methods of building relevant future-focused performance and capacity.

Existing systems serve largely to demotivate and divide, and do nothing to motivate people to develop new skills and practice, or to maintain a team or company mindset, or to challenge poor management when it should be.

Developing new feedback and feed-forward practices, innovative ways of keeping these flowing and updated constantly, and keeping performance management discussions focused on what is needed in the future are some of the key recommendations in an excellent article published by McKinsey in May 2016.

“The growing need for companies to inspire and motivate performance makes it critical to innovate in coaching—and to do so at scale. Without great and frequent coaching, it’s difficult to set goals flexibly and often, to help employees stretch their jobs, or to give people greater responsibility and autonomy while demanding more expertise and judgment from them”. Boris Ewenstein, Bryan Hancock, and Asmus Komm

Here’s a link to the full article: Ahead of the Curve: The Future of Performance Management


Leadership Across Cultures: The Scorecard

Businessman Winning Race --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Businessman Winning Race — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Would you imagine that Sub-Saharan African leaders would score highest globally on intellectual flexibility, on breadth of experience and on team development, but lowest on commercial thinking and on their ability to win hearts and minds?

Here are some similar highlights from research published in Harvard Business Review, May 2015 by Gurnek Bains (“Cultural DNA”) of global corporate consultancy YSC. Health warning: these are very broad brush statistics and will mask a lot of local cultural differences.

Latin American leaders? It seems that they lead the world by a mile on their level of drive and ambition, on being engaging and likeable, and on leading collaboration. But only 3% are strong in strategic thinking, and they have the lowest range of experience of any other region.

US leaders are the most action-oriented and also score highly in commercial thinking, but come at or near the bottom in the areas of intellectual flexibility & creativity, authoritative clear-cut leadership, self-awareness, emotional openness and authenticity.

Leaders in the Middle East are globally strongest in commercial thinking and are the most organised & structured leaders, with the strongest orientation to growth. On the other hand, they are beaten only by latin american leaders in the weakness of their strategic thinking.

Indian leaders have the greatest breadth of knowledge, and narrowly lead the rankings in authoritative, clear-cut leadership although these rank low everywhere. They are in fact much stronger in the area of drive and ambition, second only to the latin americans. Their biggest challenges are in the areas of positivity/ emotional resilience and in building relationships as likeable, engaging people.

Europe? Strongest in strategic thinking, in inclusive leadership and particularly in their visionary ability to win hearts and minds (this, by a large margin). They are also the least emotionally closed, with relative strength in perceived authenticity. However they tend to lack drive & ambition and rank low in action oriented thinking.

In China, leaders rank highest in analytical thinking, and have relative strength in their orientation towards growth, in drive & ambition, in being engaging & likeable, and in collaboration (ranking second globally in these areas). They score lowest globally in action-oriented thinking, and equal lowest in positivity/emotional resilience, and perhaps surprisingly in having authoritative, clear-cut leadership.

My Observations – First, I notice that most scores are lower than 50%, suggesting that most leaders lack most of these skills! There’s a lot of scope for development.

Second, while abilities in most areas vary widely, there is a universal lack of  strength in four areas:

  • Authoritative, clear-cut leadership
  • Self awareness and insight
  • Emotional openness and authenticity
  • Forming close, deep bonds.

So there should be huge demand for people like me who specialise in developing leaders! However the lack of self awareness among leaders is precisely why this isn’t always the case.

You have a choice – keep pretending you are doing well, or wisen up and grab a competitive advantage over a relatively weak field by finding a world class coach/mentor.

Every success!







Do Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence?

Today I want to share a fascinating piece of research by Dr. Travis Bradberry, the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

It shows that average levels of emotional intelligence (EI) drop off the further above middle management that people are. However, the kicker is that at every level, the most successful leaders are those with the highest EI!

It seems that selection panels increasingly fail to value genuine leadership skills the higher up the organisation you go, in favour of the simple, short term, bottom line metrics.

So should you hide your ability to empathise, understand, connect, and inspire others? Or should companies shake up their selection processes and criteria and start making better decisions about who to appoint?

Read more at the following link, where Travis also shares some suggestions on how to boost your performance and outshine the competition, at whatever level you currently find yourself . Highly recommended reading.

Why Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence

Expect More from 2015: Strategies for Success from Leading Experts

Strategies for Success from Leading Experts in Personal and Professional Development

.Stressed out help large

I have a free e-book compiled by Thought Leader Gihan Perera for you, including a contribution by yours truly. Find the ideas that will help you to thrive next year! Click the link below, and feel free to share everywhere.




Great Facilitation Skills

I want to re-post one of the best, short articles I have seen on what makes a great facilitator by Denise Meyerson, another of our brilliant team of mentors with Women on Boards Australia.

Why? It tells a story which paints a perfect picture of excellent practice – the kind of balance and skills that I aim to bring to my work – so it’s a great benchmark for facilitators, and a template of what people should expect to get by involving a facilitator. More teams and organisations should stop trying to make everything happen themselves – it can be so much more powerful and effective with an outside facilitator.

One thing I would add: the facilitator needs to make all this look easy …

Read Denise’s original post here or read it below

“At long last! Phew, just I as I thought there would not be some strong examples of excellent facilitation, I found them….

I have just returned from two conferences in the USA and experienced what it is like to participate in sessions that really rock, where engagement is high and where participants feel as though they have made progress.

And no, they were not lectures with some Powerpoints and time to discuss issues at a table.

So, what ensured that they met such high standards?

1. The facilitators had such high energy as they stepped in to the room. Their body language and tone of voice and was upbeat. They spoke clearly, their heads were held high and they projected the level of confidence that they felt. The group felt as though someone was in control and there was far less stress from the word go.

2. They were not perfect. Nothing was contrived and they did make some slip-ups. But that is what was so good – it was natural and not over-rehearsed. They apologised and no one minded.

3. They followed the YES AND principle! No ideas were ever shut down.there were no ‘Yes, BUT’s’ – only building on what the contributor had said. Lots of leaning in and praising of ideas and suggestions from the group.

4. The best of the best had a great sense of humour. They did not tell jokes but they were prepared to laugh at themselves whilst still showing respect for everyone in the room. Through creating these moments of lightness, they engaged all the participants and ensured that the messages were more memorable.

5. When the equipment let them down, they had a Plan B. They had other hand-outs to use and because there was so much group work, no-one even noticed that the powerpoints were not there.

6. They constantly monitored energy in the room. They noticed when the buzz was dropping or when people were tuning out. They ensured that we changed state – meaning that if we were sitting, we stood. If we were not moving, we moved to the centre of the room or towards the sides. If we were standing, we sat down and did a group activity. If we were talking, we wrote. And so on.

7. They were genuinely keen to see that we improved and had strong conversations. It is wonderful being facilitated by people who are authentic and who are driven to ensure that you are successful. They don’t want the centre stage for themselves and want to motivate you to be the best you can be.”

Find out more about Denise at http://au.linkedin.com/in/denisemeyerson

What would you add? What would be the greatest mistakes a facilitator could make? Do you have any stories of the best, or the worst?


Executive Edge – Empower, Don’t De-Skill When Delegating

Use the following as a checklist to empower not de-skill when delegating work or responsibility to others

  • Point out the benefits to the individual and how task accomplishment also benefits the organisation
  • Set a realistic challenge for the individual – not an impossible task (for them)!
  • Delegate authority to the team member for making decisions within set limits – deadlines, timeframes, level of initiative, etc.
  • Ask the person how they would tackle the task
  • Ask yourself if their method will achieve the objective
  • If you think it will work, let them do it their way, they will be more committed to their plan
  • Provide advice only if you see a flaw – even then, point out the flaw and let them try to solve it
  • Encourage the team member to suggest the checkpoints and milestones
  • Check how the individual feels about the task – and listen carefully, you must work together to deal with any concerns.

Genuine empowerment always involves 5 elements: 

  1. A ‘Can – Do’ Attitude. Have you done everything you can to fuel this kind of self belief in the team member(s) you are delegating to?
  2. The Ability to Choose – assuming that there is more than one way to do the task, they must be able to make their own decision on which is best, using their own judgement.
  3.  Influence over Outcomes. If it’s going to turn out one way no matter what they do, neither of the above elements means a thing.
  4. A Sense of Meaning. If they don’t care how it turns out, there’s no real acceptance of the power you are offering them.
  5. Trust. If they don’t trust you, and if the organisation or team don’t trust them, they will play it safe. In other words, they will not really believe, they will not have a real choice, and they will feel that they are being set up for a fall. How about making them feel that if they stuff up, the whole team (or at least you) cares and will own the outcomes of failure?


A Powerful Coaching Question

When we have coaching conversations with our staff, we tend to look  back at what they have done, how they have handled things, how they are measuring up, what problems they might have experienced … all well and good, as far as it goes.

So how do we shift the conversation to the future? And at the same time make it clear that we expect them to step up and make a difference to the team?

My suggestion: Ask them to name one thing that they would like to change. Every time you meet.

It could be a tiny thing, or something that shakes the very foundations of your organisation. Whatever the case, this is our opportunity to do everything in our power to help them to lead – without doing it ourselves.

Help them think through who needs to buy into the change and how that could happen. What’s their case, why is it important? What technical, financial and human resources do they need? How are they going to get them? And more.

If they don’t have a strong case, either help them to build it up or to accept it needs to be dropped. If they don’t have the network or skills to get support, help them to develop these. And if the change doesn’t work out as well as expected, that’s a great learning opportunity too.

Make this a habit, for both of you. I can predict that you’ll never get bored, or suffer a shortage of suggestions for improvements. And you are building a leadership mindset in each and every one of your team.

How valuable could that be?

Every success!


Managing Change: Pure Poetry

This short poem by Portia Nelson is brilliant. It was instrumental, believe it or not, in getting a massive pulp and paper business with 100,000 employees in Indonesia to change its unsustainable deforestation policies. I’ll say more after the poem!

Which of these ‘chapters’ are you experiencing?

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the pavement.

I fall in.

I am lost … I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the pavement.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the pavement.

I see it there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my own fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the pavement.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.


“An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson (May 27, 1920 – March 6, 2001).

Portia was a cabaret performer way back in the 1950’s, had a part in ‘The Sound of Music’, played the long running role of nanny Mrs Gurney in the US TV series ‘All My Children’, and was also a terrific author and poet. Her book (see the link below) became a mainstay of 12-step self discovery programs.

The Story:

Scott Poynton is an unsung hero. His non-profit organisation, The Forest Trust, has been a highly effective catalyst for managing change, where the United Nations seem to have only been able to dance on the sidelines. An Australian forester, he has helped convince some companies that have been regarded as the epitome of environmental evil by many in the green movement to change their ways. And while a big part is the business case, he is adept at using poetry, imagery and other means to work at a spiritual level with those business leaders.

He sent APP (Asia Pulp & Paper) Portia Nelson’s poem in frustration in 2011, telling their executives that they were stuck in chapter 2. And not long after, they contacted him to say they were ready for change – and that went right up to the Chinese-Indonesian family owners. Now Greenpeace have been signed up as monitors to make sure the company meets its pledges.

How ready for change are you? And your clients?

Read more about Scott Poynton in the Sydney Morning Herald, 29th March, 2014.


Take a Break: A Thousand Monkeys, An Ugly Cat, Tetris and Django

Take a break and enjoy this 3 and a half minute video! Humour, teamwork, skill, energy and creativity in one short package. Then go back to work with renewed energy!

Thousand Monkeys Episode 5

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